Special LOC talk: Dr. Neda Todorovic

Dr. Neda Todorovic, a post-doctoral fellow in the linguistics department, will be giving a talk specifically geared toward undergraduate students in linguistics. The title is “How restricted is future? Some cross-linguistic observations.” Abstract below!


Note that this talk will be held in the Lillooet Room (rm. 301) of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre.

Please consider sticking around afterward and coming to SALSA’s Wine and Cheese event!



This talk will focus on future interpretations and show that future is peculiar across languages – in order for a sentence to be interpreted in the future, the future component needs to be syntactically licensed.

To locate an event in time, languages make use of tense and aspect. In English, for example, the difference between the forms in (1) and (2) is the difference in Tense: Tense locates the event with respect to the time of speaking (the Utterance Time). Aspect has a somewhat different role – it shows us the internal structure of the situation (Comrie 1976:3). In English, the difference between (3) and (4) is between seeing the situation as a whole, with its beginning and ending, as in (3), or emphasizing its parts, without reference to its beginning and ending, as in (4).


  1. I dance every day.
  2. I danced every day.
  3. John read a poem last night.
  4. John was reading a poem when I entered the room.


In order to locate an event in time, we need both: both Tense and Aspect interact with the Utterance time, Tense directly and Aspect indirectly, via Tense. Interestingly, sometimes languages will not show any morphology for Tense, i.e., they are morphologically tenseless. But, how do we know when the event happened? I will show that in some of those languages, such tenseless sentences can receive present or past, but not future interpretation. For future, some additional mechanism is needed. This will be shown for Lillooet Salish (Matthewson 2006), Guaraní (Tonhauser 2011), and Washo (Bochnak 2016). I will also show that in Serbian, which uses aspectual morphology, future is also picky – it doesn’t easily combine with every aspect. I argue that, in order to allow for future reading in these languages, the future component needs to be syntactically licensed.